In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches His disciples a beloved prayer that our Catholic friends call “The Our Father,” and Protestants refer to as simply, “The Lord’s Prayer.  Either way, it is the believer’s model prayer. 

For those who enjoy the King James Version (KJV), verse 12 reads:  “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”   Not many today use the word “trespass,” so what does it mean to forgive someone’s trespasses?  Notice that Jesus used this word in the plural sense.  I don’t like what that suggests!  One of the greatest tragedies after the fall of mankind (Genesis 3) encompassed the disintegration of relationships.  Frankly, most of us leave a trail of broken relationships behind us as we move through life. 

To “trespass” means to go somewhere off limits, to go beyond pre-established boundaries.  We sometimes see “No Trespassing” signs mounted on fence posts in the country or in windows of abandoned buildings.

The strong implication in Matthew 6:12 is that when we trespass against someone – injure someone – we need to make amends.  In Matthew 23:18 the word is used to describe the guilt of a wrong done and the subsequent obligation to make amends for misdeeds.

In James 5:16 we are encouraged to “confess our sins one to another that we may be healed.”  The word for sin is taken from the Greek word “hamartias” and is better translated as “faults.” Sadly, many today do not understand the seriousness of these relationship dynamics.

We live in a throw away culture.  Much of our food is packaged in disposable containers.  New mothers enjoy the convenience of disposable diapers.  Picnickers appreciate paper made throw away table service. 

We live in a self-centered culture that extols convenience over commitment.  We are obligated to no one, unless there’s something in it for us.  Many leave churches all too easily because consumer mindsets override servant attitudes.  Unrealistic expectations coupled with the lack of Christian community bring skewed ideas as to why the local church exists. 

Polls conducted on a wide cross section of people asked the question, “What is the purpose of the church?” Surprisingly and sadly, ninety-two percent said, “To meet my needs.”  The “Me Generation” is speaking loudly. 

Many are all too willing to throw away their relationships at the first sign of trouble.  Let’s face it, maintaining and nurturing relationships involves hard work.  Our no-fault divorce settlements are indicative of a culture that minimizes personal accountability for actions taken or words spoken. The acknowledgment of sin where one has wronged another is no longer a foregone conclusion.

However, the Bible clearly teaches that we are under obligation to forgive the faults of others and to take whatever steps necessary to maintain healthy, on-going relationships. 

When I started out in ministry 41 years ago, I was naïve enough to believe that people who said they loved Jesus always acted like Him!  Like the ostrich, I buried my head in the sand.  Did I ever experience a rude awakening!  I have both witnessed and I’m sure personally caused damaged, broken relationships.  I too have “trespassed” others.  Remember, it takes two to have a conflict.  As you know, our lives either touch others positively or negatively.  And how we respond to one another determines the outcome.  Outlook determines outcome!  

Remember, we have no control over what other people think.  We have no control over what other people say.  We have no control over what other people do.  We do, however, have control over what WE think, say, and do!



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